Friday 26 July 2013

Games bring genealogy focus to Northern Ireland

A huge influx of visitors in Northern Ireland is expected in Northern Ireland during the World Police and Fire Games 2013 (1-10 August), and the family history community is gearing up in readiness for many extra 'roots tourists'.

The Games is a biennial event for serving and retired fire, police and prison officers from across the world. I was shocked to learn that the WPFG is the third largest international multi-sport event in the world. It will be the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland, with more than 7000 competitors taking part in 56 sports held at 41 venues.

Anticipating demand, PRONI, the Northern Ireland Family History Society and the Ulster Historical Foundation are ready to help athletes and visitors alike trace their Irish genealogy.

is holding a Family & Local History Fair on the first weekend of the Games (3-4 August) at its Titanic Boulevard offices in Belfast. PRONI's staff will be on hand, along with experts from the National Archives of Ireland, the Ulster Historical Foundation, Northern Ireland Family History Society and many other organisations, all offering free advice. There will also be a programme of talks showcasing heritage products and services throughout Ireland (details not yet confirmed). Access to microfilmed records will also be available. UPDATE: Programme and list of exhibitors released.

The Northern Ireland Family History Society's Research Centre, which is in Newtownabbey, just 6 miles from the centre of Belfast, will have specially extended opening hours in the following week, as follows:

Tuesday 6 August,   2:00pm–8:00pm
Wednesday 7 August,   10:00am–12.30pm & 4.30pm–9:00pm
Thursday 8 August,   4.30pm–9:00pm
Saturday 10 August,   10.30am–12.30pm

Volunteers at the Research Centre will be happy to offer guidance and direction to all-comers, no matter what stage their family history research has reached.

The Ulster Historical Foundation has produced a smart 32-page e-booklet, Irish Ancestors, which is free to download (click image).

It aims to help tackle the problem faced by so many new researchers of not knowing exactly where their ancestors were born, and, although intended primarily for visitors to the 2013 World Police and Fire Games in Northern Ireland, it will be of great value to anyone who wants to research their family’s Irish heritage.